Tuesday, November 27, 2012



If there is something we humans are good at it seems to be be making things complicated that don't need to be complicated.  When it comes to the Christian Faith, I think it shows in the amount of denominations and church groups out there and constant arguing over topics, that we tend to complicate the gift of Salvation, the grace of God, and His Holy Word. 

I am not saying being a christian is simple and certainly what God did by sending Jesus to become a baby and live on this earth to eventually become a living sacrifice for our sin and go through death, hell, carry our sin, and resurrect was no simple process or matter. 

The gift however of salvation is simple.  We accept this free gift, but even then most can't agree on the process of salvation, some want to "pray Jesus into your heart" which isn't even in the Bible, others want to over-emphasize or under-emphasize parts of the salvation process such as the hearing of God's Word, or confessing Jesus as Lord, or Believing, Baptism, Faith, etc....and I truly think we take something God intended to be simple and we allow Satan to use us to complicate and confuse people.

And we wonder why people don't want to go to church or be saved?  We complicate it even further by saying, you have to be a member of this church, or be baptized this way, or wear your hair this way, or dress this way, or do this or do that, and we keep adding things to God's Will and Way that are not His, but man's complications to salvation and christianity.

We major in the minor things in life and make things that are preferences into doctrines and we make commands out of things that God meant to individual liberties, and we want to pick and chooose between the Old and New Testaments what is Law and what is Liberty and we just continue to confuse people.  People we truly need to start reading and studying our Bibles in context.

I don't claim to know everything and have all the answers, but I do feel pretty confident that  being a part of a certain church group or denomination or using a certain bible version or dressing a certain way to go to church isn't going to determine whether I am saved or going to heaven or not, no matter what anyone tells me.  I don't care whether you agree with me or not, some will argue and fight to the death in  order to be right or secure their views or doctrine is "right".  I care more about being "righteous" in God's eyes than what any man or group thinks of me.

I am not wanting to add to or take away from God's Word.  I am not wanting to water down the Bible or be so liberal that nothing is a sin or abomination to God, but I am tired of people complicating the salvation message of Jesus Christ or putting all these  laws, rituals, and regulations on our spiritual personal relationship with God.  God gives us HisWord, He gives us His Holy Spirit, and doesn't need people mis-using His Word, or even His Spirit to guilt, manipulate, put-down, or accuse people and complicating His relationship with us.

It's simple folks.  God created us.  He created us for relationship and His pleasure.  We are sinful by nature.  We needed a way to have forgiveness and our sins covered, so He provided a way through Jesus Christ His  Son.  Jesus came, died and rose from the grave and in the process defeated death so we don't have to die, went through hell so we don't have to experience it, and took on our sin because we aren't perfect and we needed a perfect sacrifice. 

If we accept Jesus as Lord and follow His process of salvation found in scripture and strive to be obedient to His Word and use His Holy Spirit and prayer and our part in His Body(the church), then it's not that complicated.  Living a Godly life is complicated, overcoming bad habits and sin struggles in complicated, being faithful to God is complicated, but salvation and what God has done for us and will continue to do for us is not.

We need to stop making being a Christian so complicated with all our opinions, legalism, liberalism, worldliness, religion, justifications, excuses, denominationalism, docrtrines, etc.....and start loving people like God loves us, sharing our faith and the good news of Jesus and stop worrying about all the junk we tend to worry about that is not even salvation essential or does not take away our salvation.  I think God wants us to have reverent fear for Him, not live on contsant fear of making mistakes or not doing something right.  I also think we tend to worry too much what others think and not enough about what God really thinks.

Let's get back to the simplicity of loving God and loving others and the great commission of reaching the lost and  making disciples for Jesus.

John 3:16-17 (NIV)

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Give it a Rest

Give It A Rest

2 Timothy 2:14-17a(NIV)
14 Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene.

2 Timothy chapter 2 Apostle Paul instructs young preacher Timothy in dealing with those who like to argue, fight, and use God as their reasoning, but really they are working against God.  (encourage you to read the entire chapter or letter for yourself.)

Paul was encouraging Timothy to remind the people he was dealing with, what was important and to stop arguing about things that were not important, or not truthful.  I think this is the biggest enemy of the church today. It's not sin, It's not the world, it's people already in the churches who preach and teach and spew hate, negativity, factions, fighting, arguing, and judging not only toward those outside the church, but mostly toward those who are already christians.

Many church groups, preachers, and christians out there spend the majority of their time trying to debate, argue, or fight with those already saved about issues that aren't salvation related.  Instead of trying to love their communities, reach the lost, or discple the christians in their churches to maturity in faith, they spend most of their time trying to "prove" other church groups or christians wrong on issues such as bible versions, church music, dress codes, end of times, spiritual gifts, denominationalism, etc....which are not essential to your salvation or things that base whether you are saved or not, or going to hell or not.

Now, some may argue they are and try to debate.  I don't see God or Jesus every trying to argue or debate with people in the Bible? Yet people love and get excited about it, they love to argue, fight, debate, and sadly its really about trying to prove someone wrong and not about being righteous in God's eyes.  I think it's healthy to have discussion, not debate. I think that is how we learn and yes we even learn from those we don't agree with or share same convictions, if we allow it to happen.

Paul told Timothy to warn them(christians) about words, and that's what many do today, they want to use words to belittle, argue, tear down, and push their agenda or self-promote!  To me this is the opposite of what God wants from us.  Yes, we have a right to our opinions, but how can you expect others to listen to your opinions if you do not listen or respect theirs?  How does anyone win in an argument? They don't, especially God. There is a time to stand up for truth, to stand up against spiritual bullies, or sin, but if the motive is not the Love and Honor of God then we are doing so with wrong motives or if you can't be unbiased or respectful, then you're heart and motives are wrong.

It is time for each of us to take a long, hard, direct look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves, what or who am I really following or worshipping?  If it's God, I do not think we would spend all our time trying to prove others wrong, argue with others, or try to get others to think/feel/believe as we do about our favorite topic/subject.  Most of all the very things we are arguing about, are not salvation issues and are not keeping people from God, we are keeping ourselves and people from God when we waste it arguing.

I know many feel we must stand up for God, Hiw Word, and His church, etc..and at times we are to correct and rebuke, but verse also says encourage (2 Tim. 4:2)   If we are right about a subject or topic, yet treat someone with disresepct, belittle them, or just looking for a fight, then we are the one who is really wrong.  You can be right in subject but wrong in attitude, motivation, or treatment of others.  We also got to always keep in mind in some cases, we have liberty/freedom as a christian and we cannot bind or force our personal convictions on everyone!

It is not our job as christians, churches, or even preachers to "POLICE" the world, nor is it our calling to "prove others wrong".  Our calling is to preach and teach the Word of God to the best of our knowledge, wisdom, and discernment and be guided by the Holy Spirit and love others as Christ loves us and His church.  Yes, there will be times to confront or address sin, and times to try to correct a brother/sister of their lifestyle or choices or thinking, and yes even times to have discussions about certain topics/beliefs/convictions, but never for the purpose to quarrel, argue, or debate with selfish intentions of being right or being superior.  I think God deserves better from all of us including pastors, leaders, teachers, church groups, and individual christians.

My plea for today is "Give it a Rest", stop making your life or ministry about a certain subject or topic that's imporant to you or your church group and start making it about loving God, loving others. Make it about seeking and saving the Lost and making disciples,  those are things that are essential to our salvation and calling.  Not what type of music I listen to or what bible translation I use, or what clothes I wear to church, or what name is on the church sign, or how charismatic, liberal, or conservative my views are on spiritual gifts, end of times, or eternal security. 

There will always be issues that we can discuss, dialogue about, and share with each other and yes we can agree to disagree about certain subjects without questioning someones manhood or womanhood, their standing with God, their knowledge, or their intelligence.   I think we should all be motivated to be closer to God, understand His Word and Will better, and tap into the power of His Holy Spirit, but never should our motivation or agenda be to argue, quarrel, belittle, or fight. 

You can stand for truth and still be respectful, you can disagree with someone and still be brothers/sisters, and you can still love people who love the same God, but differ on intrepretations of certain scritpures on certain subjects.  We all can start by focusing more on God and working on our walk/relationship with Him and be our goal to honor and glorify Him on all we say and do and how we treat others and treat His word and the name of "christian" we wear.

2 Timothy 2:23-26 (NIV)

23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Tattoos & Jesus

Tattoos & Jesus

Leviticus 19:28(NIV)
28 “‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.
Well there is it, I can stop there, I don't have to say anything else about tattoo's....or do I?  It would be easy to asssume this one verse means christians can't get tattoo's or it's a sin if you do, or at least this is the verse everyone uses to claim this.
Leviticus 19:26-28(NIV)26 “‘Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.“‘Do not practice divination or sorcery.27 “‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.
These are just two of the verses before vs. 28, so if you follow vs. 28 then you have to follow vs. 26 only eat kosher meat, don't practice sorcery(that one's pretty easy for most) and don't go get your hair cut on the sides or clip edges of your beard, i guess if we want to get technical, it's a sin if you don't have a beard, because it implies you already have a beard.

Ok, I'm not meaning to be sarcastic, but my point is Leviticus 19:28 is taken out of context and is misused in a way to encourage people not to get tattoo's or to call tattoo's a sin.  I am not writing this today because I have tattoo's and I want to justify it.  Truth is, if I thought tattoo's were wrong or a sin even though I had them I would admit it or get them removed.  At the same time, even if I didn't have any tattoo's I would not misuse scripture to say something is a "sin" or "wrong" when I did not have the scripture or authority to back it up.

The past week I have seen two debates on facebook about this issue and I have seen extreme on both sides of the issue and even shared my 2 cents for what it's worth, but the bigger issue for me besides tattoo's is the manner in which we make things sin and claim something to be wrong and use the Bible yet we are misquoting it, taking it out of context, or misusing or mishandling the Word of God to push a belief, meaning we already have a predetermined belief because of the way we were raised or taught so I have to have a scripture to back it up. 

People do this with the tattoo issue and music in the church, and all other sorts of beliefs, that pull a scripture out of a book, chapter, and use it to say what they want it to say.  That is wrong and I believe that is the SIN. 

This chapter in Leviticus was a chapter written about various laws and mostly dealing with some of the pagan worship and practices that were going on in surrounding cultures around the jews and some were coming into their area and lives and God didn't want that in there.  He didn't want people cutting their bodies to remember or honor the dead(pagan ritual) nor did he want people(many women in this time) marking themselves with various markings/tattoos to ward off evil spirits, remember the dead, or honor a pagan God, or some sort of idol worship. 

The issue is you have to look at the book of Leviticus as a whole, you have to look at it chapter by chapter and do some research. I spent some time this morning looking at the Bible, reading some commentaries on Leviticus, and even read some articles online about the pro's and con's about this issue.     People do the same thing with I Corintians 6:19, Paul addresses a section of scripture in his writing on sexual immorality in chapter 6 and vs. 19 says "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you,, whom you received from God? You are not your own."(NIV) Once again if you'd read this in context with chapter 6 and especially 6:12-20 you would see this verse is in deed not about christians getting tattoo's, it's about  people abusing their bodies, especially with sexual sin.  His best advice is in 6:12, where He reminds us "everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial."

I think the bottom line is in my study and research and prayer of this topic, that a tattoo is an individual and personal choice and for some they can get them and have peace and a clear conscience and for some they have doubt and concern and they would be wise not to get any, but the key for all of us to remember is there is no scripture in the Bible Old or New Testament that specifically addresses this issue, but like many topics and issues that are not specifically addressed, we must use wisdom, discernment, self-control, common sense, and our personal liberty/freedom given to us by God and His Holy Spirit guidance.

I'm not promoting for anyone to go get tattoo's nor am I calling them wrong or a sin, nor am I riding the fence on the issue, because for me and what I've seen in the Bible it's a personal issue, not a church, doctrine, or salvation issue. 

There are so many things we focus on and we try hard to make them a "sin" or about "salvation" or question others "christianity" if they don't agree, look like, sound like, or dress like us, or believe just like us, or go to our church group.  That my friends is the bigger sin, because the bible speaks a l ot on our hearts and attitudes. 

Jesus told us in Mark 7:20-23when dealing with the legalistic religous leaders of His day on what was clean and unclean 20 He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ 21 For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’”(NIV) So I think a tattoo on the outside of your body if you choose is insignificant, but what comes out of you from your heart is the true sin.

I think we all need to go read Romans 14 in context and read the whole chapter and that should be our attitude on things concerning issues and topics where the Bible doesn't clearly speak or is silent so it gives us personal freedom to choose for ourselves.  That your homework today, to read that chapter!

It was not my goal to change anyone's mind today, if you think tattoo's are wrong, then don't get one, but do not tell someone else they are a sinner or wrong if they have one or want to get one, and if you have tattoo's or plan to get one, don't do it for the wrong reasons or flaunt it to be divisive to those who don't share your same freedom. Most of all stop misusing, mishandling, or misquoting the Bible.  Don't try to make the Bible fit into your belief system, but be a student of the Bible and let God's word change you from the inside out!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Get Over Yourself

Get Over Yourself

Ecclesiastes 3:4(NIV)
"a time to weep and a time to laugh"

Solomon went he wrote Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for everything, and yes even a time to laugh.  People who don't often laugh, joke or smile, often are very miserable and unhappy people.

I know scripture teaching us about coarse/crude joking, but we have to realize not everything you say joking or attempt at humor is coarse/crude or displeasing to God.  Bible teaches us "love of money" is root of all evil not money itself and in this instance "joking" is not a sin, but the type of joking you do (coarse/crude).

I think God has a sense of humor and as we look at certain books of the Bible or characters we can pick up on their use of humor, such as Elijah in I Kings 18 taunting the Baal prophets or even Jesus' humor with the woman at the well in John 4, who said said she had no husband when Jesus told her to go get her husand, and he told her she was right that she's had 5 husbands and the guy she was living with now wasn't her husband.  If you can't see the sarcasm in these examples you were baptized in prune juice or grumpy.

Seriously, though, we need to laugh and enjoy life.  There is so much sin, hurt, tragedy, pain, and suffering in this time,  we need times of laughter and humor or we're going to be miserable, bitter, unhealthy people.

Why do you think Solmon wrote  Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."

I am not saying be so humorous you have no boundaries or standards or intentionally try to hurt, offend, or upset people or God, but at the same time, there are some unhappy, grouchy, stick in the mud folks out there "claiming" to have the joy of the Lord, but the Lord they are getting their joy from is not  the same one I serve.

Being Holy doesn't mean being unhappy.  Being an example doesn't mean being a dud.  Being Christ-like doesn't mean being humorless.  People are missing out on so much living by living by a set of rules that were man-made, church group made, or devil-made.  You think the Devil wants you to have a good time and enjoy being a Christian?  No! He wants us all to be uptight, relgious, legalistic, buzz-kill, kiljoys!  He doesn't want anyone to enjoy being a Christian.

Satan wants to rob us of our joy and so in taking away our sense of humor or our laughter and joking, he takes away our power to practice joy. I'm not giving him that power.  I'm going to laugh, I'm going to cut up, I'm going to tell jokes, and I'm going to laugh at others and what they say and do.  That doesn't make me less of a christian, a bad example, or a heathen!  It makes me human.  It makes me realistic.  If I cross the line or say or do something I shouldn't in the attempt at humor I feel the Holy Spirit will convict me and I will repent if I act in a way that doesn't please God or separates me from Him.

My point today is that God created us in His likeness and we are His.  We were all created with different personalities and gifts and some of that might include a humourous personlity or gift of making others laugh, but all of us are capable of lauging and smiling and making others do the same.

Enjoy a laugh today.  Make someone laugh.  Make God laugh.